Winners: Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers 2017 Giveaways

My hearty thanks to everyone who entered 2017’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers giveaways!

I’m happy to announce that Shamekka won a copy of Home by Ginny L. Yttrup, Cassandra won a copy of Loving Luther by Allison Pittman, sbmcmh won a copy of The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins, Kathy won a copy of The Illusionist’s Apprentice by Kristy Cambron, Linda won a copy of Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll, and Pat won a copy of Egypt’s Sister: A Novel of Cleopatra by Angela Hunt. Congrats!

  

  

Be sure to check out all of this year’s Favorite Reads and Favorite Covers for great books to add to your reading list.

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World of the Innocent

When It’s Time Series

 

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The Christmas Star: A Love Story by Robert Tate Miller

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

The Christmas Star: A Love Story by Robert Tate Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

The pain of a crushing tragedy has driven Paul away from his family, and he now drinks far too much. He’s come to abhor Christmas, but one Christmas Eve accident lands him back in time—in the path of shepherds who’ll soon travel to see the newborn Christ in The Christmas Star: A Love Story by author Robert Tate Miller.

This novel wasn’t originally in my holiday reading queue for the year. But with the simple and tranquil but stunning quality of its chilly blue book cover sitting atop my TBR pile, and the beautiful white light of that star winking at me, I had to read this book sooner than later.

I usually dislike making comparisons between creative works, as I don’t want to set up people’s expectations for something other than the work in question. Still, here and there, this novel personally reminded me of four different movies I like, including two of my all-time favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life and The Nativity Story. I found much of this to be a fairly easygoing read, but just as it would settle into a predictable groove, it would slip in a little something unexpected to keep me on my toes.

The backstories of a couple minor characters went on a bit long to me, until I felt somewhat adrift from Paul’s tale. And there are some instances when backstory pops up to suddenly relate to an unfolding scene, instead of those past details being mentioned earlier in the book. Also, Paul has a minor tendency to be redundant, especially while he’s describing some of his lowest moments.

Nevertheless, this sobering story is saturated with the meaning of Christmas and the hope, redemption, and beautiful light that meaning brings.

 

Pemberton Manor: The Faithful Father by Becky Doughty

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Pemberton Manor: The Faithful Father: A Serial Novel Episode 02 by Becky Doughty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Harvey can never undo his rash and grave mistake for which he, and his son, have been paying a costly price. Harvey’s penance is part of the bargain he made with God to deal with all this, but penance may not be what’s needed now. It may just be the time for some Grace in Pemberton Manor: The Faithful Father by author Becky Doughty.

Good gracious, I’m sure it’d be impossible to encounter the misfits in this manor and not have them grow on you, one by one. This second episode of the Pemberton Manor serial novel manages to strike a variety of critical chords in a short period of time. Yes, much of that is due to the way the prequel and first episode set the stage for this one, but Harvey’s story delivers—especially with its message on bargaining with God.

And, Grace! More Grace Winters. All the Grace Winters. I love her!

Now, speaking of setting the stage, I do feel this installment takes care of foundational stuff to set up something big that will happen, but we don’t really get to experience the fullness of it here. It’s one of the drawbacks of a serial, and the reason why I usually wait until a serial novel is complete before I dive in.

But I got started on this journey and can’t stop, won’t stop, now. That is, yes, I’m stopping to wait on the next episode, but I’m not unhappy about it, since these characters and their intertwining stories are so on point.

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You’ll want to start Pemberton Manor from the beginning! Here’s my review of The Goodbye Girl.

 

 

Piercehaven: Welcome to the Island by Robin Merrill

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Piercehaven: Welcome to the Island by Robin Merrill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Emily has finally landed her first “real” teaching job. It seems like a quaint setup: a small town on a Maine island and a K-12 school with fewer than two hundred students. But as Emily gets closer to a dark secret in this town, her job—and more—could be at stake in Piercehaven: Welcome to the Island, a novel by author Robin Merrill.

I was drawn into this story rather quickly by the dashes of dry humor and, well, just a certain realness to Emily’s point of view. Except for some of the later chapters and an ending I found somewhat abrupt, the story moves at a nice pace without feeling rushed. Although this novel isn’t a thriller or anything, I became riveted at a particular point and couldn’t stop reading.

I usually don’t go for heroines who cry as much as Emily does, but the fact that she’s fully aware of her tendency toward “waterworks” makes a difference. Her tears don’t seem like a heavy-handed attempt to make the reader feel for her. Besides, Emily isn’t a weak or wispy damsel. She’s got some fire and tenacity. When the time comes for her to stand up, she
stands up
. That’s the kind of heroine I appreciate.

Now, while I’m a longtime fan of ChristFic, some of the “Jesus speak” and calls to salvation usually feel weird to me in novels, as was the case here. I also wasn’t too drawn into the story’s romance; the characters’ feelings for each other pop into the foreground before there’s a real chance to see why they’ve come to feel that way, exactly.

Still, there’s plenty about the novel that had me (literally) applauding, and if there’s a sequel coming, that’s a definite plus.